Get unconfused in identifying the TRUMPET and CORNET FISH

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Get unconfused in identifying the TRUMPET and CORNET FISH

When I first started diving in Cyprus, I did not have a clue about the difference between Trumpet and Cornet Fish and I noticed they were generally misnamed by other divers and dive professionals. The Trumpet Fish is generally an invasive species along the coast of Cyprus but I have spotted this fantastic fish as far north as Orkney Islands off Scotland. There is an abundance of the long snake like Cornet Fish in Cyprus but the Trumpet Fish is rarer and harder to spot due to its brilliant camouflage abilities.


Trumpet Fish are long bodied almost tubular fish that have upturned mouths somewhat resembling a trumpet-like instrument, which is from where this fish gets its name.  These fish belonging to the seahorse family and are fascinating creatures to the passing scuba diver as they will hover almost motionless, resembling a stick or a strand of seaweed, making them difficult to spot immediately. Scuba divers can easily identify the Trumpet Fish by its distinctive shape and elongated body despite the variety of colours in which it comes in.


However, there is often confusion between identification of a Trumpet Fish and the Cornet Fish which are very similar looking at first glance but are usually longer than Trumpets, can grow till 6.6 ft (2m) in length, and are much thinner and more elongated. Cornet Fish are also distinguished by a very long snout, distinct dorsal and anal fins, and a forked caudal fin or tail fin.


Trumpet Fish are found primarily in the Western Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Caribbean, often in coral reefs or weedy lagoons where they can easily blend in with their surroundings. These fish are carnivores and their diet is almost exclusively small fish which they sneak up on and strike with a sudden powerful suction that pulls the prey rapidly into their mouth. The hunting style of the Trumpet Fish has been described best as the ‘lurk-and-lunge’ action, where the fish can remain almost motionless hovering in the water, then inch closer to its intended prey, before lunging at it with its vacuum-like mouth.

Best known as masters of camouflage, Trumpet Fish are usually found in varying shades of mottled reddish brown, yellow or green, but can also easily change their colour. They often swim vertically with their snouts down, which helps them to blend in with surrounding sea fans, pipe sponges and sea whips, thereby hiding from predators and also making it difficult for the passing diver to spot; however once spotted, these delightful creatures are always fun to observe.

On sighting, the Trumpet Fish will generally remain still to maintain camouflage, but when closely approached, will move away or may change colour for protection.